It’s half way through summer and chances are your teen has already said “I’m bored” or used a similar enough phrase. Although many teens look forward to summer time so they can do nothing, the nothing only feels good for a week or so and then gets boring.
In early childhood, parents typically figure out their kid’s summer activities and spend much of their own time entertaining them. As kids enter the teen years and approach adulthood, I like to encourage parents to promote independence in the family. It is their turn to start picking and planning their own activities (with parental support, of course).
This process gives them the opportunity to explore their likes and dislikes, build their research skills, and it gives them a feeling of responsibility and empowerment. More importantly, it will give them a greater sense of appreciation for what they are involved in.
Here are some possible opportunities for teens:
1. Camp with leadership: Many camps offer wonderful programs to help teens meet new people, make friends, and build their social and leadership skills. These skills are essential and are transferrable to all areas of life. Consider a program where you can build upon your existing skills.
2. Life coaching program with personal development: Life coaching programs offer personalized services helping teens to identify weaknesses and self-limiting beliefs that can keep them from creating a good life for themselves. Coaching typically assigns ‘homework’ where teens use their time to learn how their thoughts and beliefs affect their behaviour. Connecting these dots is usually the first step to taking responsibility and accountability for one’s actions.
3. Family time: If possible, every summer should consist of some family time. Family time reinforces the family bond which is important for every family member. Family activities can range from vacation to single day outings, to regular dinners together.
4. Explore the creative side: Creativity is not necessarily about music and art. Creativity is really a process where anyone can create something new. The new creation can be anything, including writing a book or a song, creating a new product or service, creating new recipes, or anything that is fun. Creativity typically encourages one to look deep inside oneself for inspiration.
5. Chores: Are there any outstanding chores that need to be done (e.g., cleaning out the closet and donating items to charities)? The summer is a great time to continue strengthening the responsibility muscle. After all, summer is not a vacation from responsibility; it is a vacation from the school routine.
6. Volunteering: Does your teen support a particular charity? Encourage him/her to belong to a group that makes an important difference in the community. The great thing about this is your teen will feel s/he is a part of this important difference. And s/he really is!
7. Job: Is your teen old enough to add employment to his or her summer agenda? Not only will this produce an income but it will promote independence. The teen may choose to work for an employer or to become a young entrepreneur. What matters is that the choice of employment is a close match to personal interest.
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto